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Old 08-01-2007, 10:54 AM   #1
Ketsan
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Mechanics of mushin

Is mushin something perminent or situational? If it's situational what activates it? Is it the case that in response to a powerful emotional stimulus you kinda switch to mushin?
If it's perminent can you have normal emotions and be in mushin?
I suppose I'm asking "How do you know you're in mushin?"

And is mushin something that grows. Do you learn to maintain mushin rather than just developing it as a full blown and immovable state of mind?

Last edited by Ketsan : 08-01-2007 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 08-01-2007, 12:37 PM   #2
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

Quote:
Alex Lawrence wrote: View Post
Is mushin something perminent or situational? If it's situational what activates it? Is it the case that in response to a powerful emotional stimulus you kinda switch to mushin?
If it's perminent can you have normal emotions and be in mushin?
I suppose I'm asking "How do you know you're in mushin?"

And is mushin something that grows. Do you learn to maintain mushin rather than just developing it as a full blown and immovable state of mind?
Mushin, is the state of no mind, which, of course just means that you do not ... well, I mean you don't, um.... do you? [umm] .... and there is no, ... [no, hang on,...], no... no...
no ...

I am so sorry.

Were you saying something?


Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 08-01-2007, 01:39 PM   #3
Don_Modesto
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

MUSHIN refs:

Takuan-Yagyu dialogue.

Plato's Ion.

Flow in Sports by Susan A. Jackson and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Enjoy.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 08-01-2007, 06:42 PM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

IMHO, since mushin means no (or empty) mind, it is therefore a lack of mechanics (attachment) and a free flowing state of consciousness. When you know you are in it, you aren't.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 08-01-2007, 06:56 PM   #5
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

"Mind" is an incomplete definition of "shin." The character is "kokoro" - and it encompasses the mind (not the "thinking mind", per se) + the heart (not the "beating heart," per se) and the spirit (not the "tequila spirit," per se). Lynn is right on with the concept of "free flowing," but this doesnt' mean "flowing to a particular direction," as a river would. More like "flowing in all the cracks and crevices of the ground," to make a moment-by-moment, perfect fit. AND, "mu" is not empty, in the sense that we imagine a "vacuum," but "empty of agenda, situationally perfect."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, someone's going to pull up the old chestnut, "The Tao that can be spoken aint the Tao," to which I reply: A lady approached Mr. Natural and asked, "What is the diddy-wah-diddy." And he replied, " "If you don't know by now, lady, don't mess with it!"
Best

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Old 08-01-2007, 09:27 PM   #6
Keith Larman
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

There was a great quote by Louis Armstrong when asked about Jazz...

Quote:
Man, if you have to ask what it is, you'll never know.
As already mentioned your best bet to find western interpretations of similar phenomena would be to look up the concept of "flow states". It was an "in" topic for a while fairly recently in popular psych especially.

For me, I often use music as a comparison myself. Take playing classical piano. You start learning how to move your hands. You learn more and more control. You learn the notes. You start to learn the piece. Eventually you play it the way it was written. Hopefully at some point you stop playing notes and start playing music. At that point you're no longer thinking fingers, notes, pauses, pedal control, etc. You're just playing music. At some point you finish the music but in a weird way you're not really conscious of having played the piece as much as the piece kinda "flowed" out of you. You may be sweaty, you may be tired, you may notice your fingers, hands and arms are tired, but you where never conscious of any of that while playing.

Sometimes, very rarely, I get the same feeling during practice. Fleeting moments of clarity of mind, the slowing of time, things just happening and me doing something or another but I really don't know why. If you ask maybe I'll come up with some ad hoq explanation of why I did it. But ultimately... It just happened.

You might also consider the book Blink by Gladwell. Kinda touches on similar themes but from a different angle.

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Old 08-02-2007, 07:30 AM   #7
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

Mushin.... if you're thinking about it, you ain't in it..

Inocencio Maramba, MD, MSc
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Old 08-02-2007, 07:58 AM   #8
Ketsan
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

So I take it then that mushin isn't a perminent thing. You don't suddenly reach mushin one day and then stay that way, you just learn to enter into it when you need to?
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Old 08-02-2007, 08:13 AM   #9
raul rodrigo
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

Quote:
Alex Lawrence wrote: View Post
I suppose I'm asking "How do you know you're in mushin?"
If you've got to ask, you aren't.
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:03 AM   #10
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

Quote:
Alex Lawrence wrote: View Post
So I take it then that mushin isn't a perminent thing. You don't suddenly reach mushin one day and then stay that way, you just learn to enter into it when you need to?
It is just your ordinary mind doing what it does when you have stopped monitoring what your mind is doing and are just doing it.

If you really enjoy doing anything and you find you have utterly lost track of time in doing it, you dwelt in mushin at some point. Good books, skiing, driving -- anything really. It is quite easy with things that are engaging and pleasant. It is really much more straightforward and less mystical than people who are selling something may make it out to be.

The difference in budo is in unlearning one's inhibitions about physical threats and space. You have to become as absorbed in the immediacy and the process of being attacked as a painter becomes in painting a detailed landscape for hours on end. That is not so easy -- because it involves completely inverting one's sense of threat, about which some people have very deep inhibitions that they are often unable to remove without grave difficulty. Mushin is dropping into the same groove routinely under physical threat -- which occurs only after much practice, and for which there is no substitute.

As O Sensei said -- it is simply adopting an attitude of love, or, if you prefer, as Jesus said -- loving one's enemies as oneself and turning (tenkan) the other cheek (irimi). The hard part is not knowing what it is or what it feels like (I daresay have never met anyone who has not experienced mushin in some setting) -- but being there while under hard circumstances. A hard slog up a mountain is just one damn blistered foot after the other -- but it ceases to be a such problem when we cease to distinguish the movement of our feet from the rest of our body, and -- as Peter O'Toole said in Lawrence of Arabia -- "The trick is -- not minding that it hurts."

Mushin is like this.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:21 AM   #11
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

I recall an interview with the late Tohei Akira Shihan where he compared mushin to driving a car. When you drive a car, you don't think "I'll push the accelerator this much," or "I'll turn the steering wheel 240 degrees." In fact, you think about where you're going, and what other cars are doing, but you operate the car itself without conscious thought. So that's basically the goal - to be able to correctly express yourself physically in a conflict without conscious thought.

So let me run with that. Now imagine that you're driving a car, but you're in a hurry. Now you're still driving without conscious thought, but you're distracted by everything else. You're frazzled. Maybe you miss your exit, or you almost hit somebody. That state of mind is no good, so you need to develop "heijoushin" 平常心 - the everyday, calm state of mind.

Okay, now imagine you're driving a race car. You're going at extremely high speeds. One wrong move and your car will go flying, possibly killing you. On top of that, the other cars may be bumping you, cutting you off, and basically making it difficult for you to complete the race. What you develop here is fudoushin 不動心 - imperturable mind. You operate the car automatically - you're flowingly aware of hundreds of things going on around you, and despite the danger you are not afraid. Mushin, heijoushin, and fudoushin.

At least that's one way of looking at it.

Josh Reyer

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Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:24 AM   #12
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

Darn fine post Josh. Maybe add that to the wiki as well!

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:46 AM   #13
Timothy WK
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

I've experienced a number of different states of mind that could maybe be called Mushin. (Or maybe they have different names.)

The first is the state mind associated with meditation. In this state, the mind is calm. You simply "are". There's states of meditation where you lose track of time and of a sense of self, and then there are states of meditation where you're fully aware, but absent of any thought or feeling. I'm not sure if this is the same thing as "losing oneself" in a good book/movie or while driving.

The second state is one of extreme focus. I used to work as a bike messenger, and as you would expect, it required extreme levels of focus and awareness. During that job, there were a few times when I was SO focused, and there was SO much stimuli coming at me, that I simply didn't have room in my brain for conscious thought. One time, I was zipping down down the street so fast, dodging cars, that when I jumped off the bike, it took me a second to remember what it was I was suppose to be doing at that building.

Third, again, when I was a messenger---I was so comfortable on the bike, that I no longer thought about how to ride it, or even how to dodge cars and such. But my mind was active all the time. I would be looking two or three blocks down the road, plotting out my path. So I would be thinking about what I WOULD BE doing, not what I ACTUALLY WAS doing. (Maybe this was what Josh was calling "fudoushin ".)

And lastly, there have been those times when something happened, and I just reacted. Like when a car was about to hit me while I was on the bike. I didn't think about what I was suppose to do, I just reacted. I was, again, fully aware of what I was doing, I just didn't think about it.

Last edited by Timothy WK : 08-02-2007 at 10:50 AM. Reason: bad grammar

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Old 08-02-2007, 04:30 PM   #14
Timothy WK
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
The difference in budo is in unlearning one's inhibitions about physical threats and space. You have to become as absorbed in the immediacy and the process of being attacked as a painter becomes in painting a detailed landscape for hours on end. That is not so easy -- because it involves completely inverting one's sense of threat, about which some people have very deep inhibitions that they are often unable to remove without grave difficulty.
Erick, I'm not sure if I can get behind that totally. Fear is a slightly different issue. When I was a bike messenger, I was under a near constant threat of personal injury. That experience taught me a few lessons about fear.

First, simply being exposed to risk hardens one to fear. After a while, you simply stop having emotional reactions to dangerous situations. You kinda grow apathetic.

But more significantly, as one grows in skill, you also gain a greater awareness of one's limits. With this sensitivity, you can push yourself more and more. One's limits are often much greater than a beginner thinks. A beginner may see an expert, and think they're doing really risky stuff. But the expert knows it's nothing they can't handle.

And this leads to a greater awareness of what IS and ISN'T actually dangerous. An expert boxer can bob and weave between punches with a cool detachment---not because he's hardened to fear, per se, but because he recognizes that his opponent is kinda slow (or whatever). He's never actually in real danger, so he feels no fear.

Anyway, I could continue to rant, but that's not the point here. My point is that Mushin and managing fear, in and of themselves, are seperate skills. In "standard" Aikido practice, without sparring, I think it's possible to achieve Mushin without ever really learning to deal with fear, since practitioners are never really in actual danger. Likewise, I think you can learn to manage fear without ever really entering into a state of Mushin.

PS---I wanted to add to my post above, about meditative Mushin. Zen monks attempt to carry that state into their daily lives, so that type of Mushin is potentially permanent. The others I mention are more situational.

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 08-02-2007, 09:00 PM   #15
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
Erick, I'm not sure if I can get behind that totally. Fear is a slightly different issue. When I was a bike messenger, I was under a near constant threat of personal injury. That experience taught me a few lessons about fear.

First, simply being exposed to risk hardens one to fear. After a while, you simply stop having emotional reactions to dangerous situations. You kinda grow apathetic.

But more significantly, as one grows in skill, you also gain a greater awareness of one's limits. With this sensitivity, you can push yourself more and more. One's limits are often much greater than a beginner thinks. A beginner may see an expert, and think they're doing really risky stuff. But the expert knows it's nothing they can't handle.
Good contribution and the point about fear actually addresses part of his original question about emotion. Personally I do not think that mushin is emotionless or apathetic, as you rightly suggest one common result of habituation to increased risk may be. Mushin is not that at all. Mushin is a state so completely engaged emotionally, intellectually sensually, that there is no mind left over to pay attention to the mind as it is paying attention. There is only mirror reflecting reality -- not the optical illusion of the mirror reflecting the mirror.

But what I said was actually not fear but "threat." Fear is a common, but not universal response to threat. Sociopaths and psychpaths often do not react to threat with fear. Those two pathological types may differ in their specific emotional responses, Sociopaths often do not react emotionally at all. Psychopaths often react in anger or rage vice fear. Threat from a loved one also involves intense emotional response, but not typically fear either, which seems to me to also be part of what O Sensei was talking about when he said true budo is love.
Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
Anyway, I could continue to rant, but that's not the point here. My point is that Mushin and managing fear, in and of themselves, are seperate skills. In "standard" Aikido practice, without sparring, I think it's possible to achieve Mushin without ever really learning to deal with fear, since practitioners are never really in actual danger. Likewise, I think you can learn to manage fear without ever really entering into a state of Mushin.
In this I disagree, slightly. The old saw about courage is doing things despite being afraid, is applicable, and you seem to touch on that. Mushin, to my way of thinking is an operative condition, but not conditioned on the sense of safety or lack of fear, but rather on love of the action and the object of it. Note that this has no moral gradient, psychopaths in control of their anger who genuinely enjoy hurting people are just as capable of mushin as loving warriors of O Sensei's true budo who are able to overcome their fear.

Mushin is not a product of sense of skilled invulerability nor will it create an invulnerable level of skill. It does relate to action using such skills becoming less conscious, and there fore less vulnerable to internal disturbance from emoitons that get in the way of absorption in the moment. However, there is no reason to believe that the proverbial "last stand" and a knowing death undertaken willingly meant that mushin was lost thereby.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-02-2007, 09:36 PM   #16
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Grr! Re: Mechanics of mushin

Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
Third, again, when I was a messenger---I was so comfortable on the bike, that I no longer thought about how to ride it, or even how to dodge cars and such. But my mind was active all the time. I would be looking two or three blocks down the road, plotting out my path. So I would be thinking about what I WOULD BE doing, not what I ACTUALLY WAS doing. (Maybe this was what Josh was calling "fudoushin ".)
I tend to view mushin and fudoshin as related but different. Fudoshin means that the state of one's awareness is not easily distracted or disturbed by latching onto any of the stream of objects passing through the field of attention -- to the exclusion those that immediately displace it. Without that function the attachment breaks the state of awareness back into duality of object/subject.

Not this has nothing to do with the nature of that attention or its overall disposition. An obsessive-compulsive personality is the antithesis of fudoshin. A person may be so absorbed in contemplation of an object or process as to achieve mushin, but lacking fudoshin, this awareness is easily disturbed toward or in reaction against some intervening potential object of attention, be it negative or positive. Being so narrow in focus, intense awareness of this nature -- even though mushin -- cannot be fudoshin.

Similarly, the ADD mind (speaking from experience) may achieve a level of moment by moment attention to the stream of sense objects and internal states that would qualify as approaching if not the same as fudoshin. But lacking the absorption of the totality of awareness processes, so as to exclude the reflective states, it cannot be mushin. Hyperfocus (another trait of the ADD mind, is a durable form of mushin (on steroids I dare say), akin to a situational obsessiveness (but without the accidentla or arbitrayr character of true obsessiveness), but it excludes complete awareness of other sense objects such that it cannot be fudoshin.

The combination of these two together is the ideal posture of awareness in budo -- Mushin that is so absorbed in the processes of the moment so as to eliminate dualistic reflective states, and fudoshin that is robustly preventing attachment to any sense object or incipient internal state in the field of awareness that would instantly break that state of consciousness back into objective/subjective duality.

ADD people have the task of combining both aspects of awareness that they exhibit separately to high degree. Normal people have the task of taking the combination that they typically possess at a low gain, and amplifying them both, so as not to overemphasize one over the other.

Again, these are operative and not morally weighted conditions.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:15 AM   #17
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
It is just your ordinary mind doing what it does when you have stopped monitoring what your mind is doing and are just doing it.

If you really enjoy doing anything and you find you have utterly lost track of time in doing it, you dwelt in mushin at some point. Good books, skiing, driving -- anything really. It is quite easy with things that are engaging and pleasant. It is really much more straightforward and less mystical than people who are selling something may make it out to be.

The difference in budo is in unlearning one's inhibitions about physical threats and space. You have to become as absorbed in the immediacy and the process of being attacked as a painter becomes in painting a detailed landscape for hours on end. That is not so easy -- because it involves completely inverting one's sense of threat, about which some people have very deep inhibitions that they are often unable to remove without grave difficulty. Mushin is dropping into the same groove routinely under physical threat -- which occurs only after much practice, and for which there is no substitute.

As O Sensei said -- it is simply adopting an attitude of love, or, if you prefer, as Jesus said -- loving one's enemies as oneself and turning (tenkan) the other cheek (irimi). The hard part is not knowing what it is or what it feels like (I daresay have never met anyone who has not experienced mushin in some setting) -- but being there while under hard circumstances. A hard slog up a mountain is just one damn blistered foot after the other -- but it ceases to be a such problem when we cease to distinguish the movement of our feet from the rest of our body, and -- as Peter O'Toole said in Lawrence of Arabia -- "The trick is -- not minding that it hurts."

Mushin is like this.
Thank you for the excellent post, Mr. Mead

The quote on my profile sums it up for me. In-adversity, in-joy, in all things......."this is this."

There are people saying that if you're asking, you aren't in it. Maybe that's true; but it is in you and the fact that you are asking this question is a clue that your timeless self is speaking.

O'Sensei spoke of aikido as 'the way of the mountain echo path'. Like a call out to a mountain across a great divide your question will be answered and magnified by the power of 'the echo'. Your call will be sent back to you and you will likely smile at the sound ( mu-su).

Enjoy your journey! You're on your way.

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 08-04-2007 at 11:19 AM.

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Old 08-04-2007, 12:21 PM   #18
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: Mechanics of mushin

By the way, the second part of my post was pointed to the OP, and not to Eric Mead. Although it was meant for the benefit of anyone.

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